Voracious Vigorous Voles

They look like mice with short tails, but what problems do voles pose for our landscapes? These guys are granivores, so people that feed birds will naturally have more voles in their yard because bird seed is a whole bunch of grain that falls to the ground as the birds partake. It’s the fallen grain that provides food for voles.

Voles love to tunnel behind loose-stacked rock retaining walls—not so much the manufactured concrete retaining walls.  Vole tunneling can become so extensive behind loose stone walls that collapse is a possibility.

Most people notice trails in their lawn after snow has melted.  This is a sure sign of vole activity. Voles tend to run single file, chewing down the grass to create trails.  The damage to the lawn is not permanent and the grass readily recovers.

During winters when food sources are scarce, voles will eat tulip bulbs and the roots of hosta and other plants.  Consider planting daffodils instead, which voles won’t eat.

Vole control is a consideration if you have a rock retaining wall or lots of tulips.  Voles can be readily trapped with a catch-all trap or a regular mouse snap-trap baited with bird seed held in place with a little peanut butter.

More information can be found here: http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/html/g887/build/g887.htm .

Kathleen Cue
Horticulture Program Coordinator at Nebraska Extension

Kathleen serves as a Horticulture Program Coordinator. She educates people on making smart plant choices to reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides in their landscape which has a positive impact on air, water, soil and environmental quality, property values and people’s pocketbooks. She provides leadership and coordination of the NE Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties Master Gardener volunteer programs: the Master Gardener Speakers Bureau, and “Ask the Master Gardener” Consultations.


Leave a Reply